Looking for a shortcut to the most useful apps to download now? You just found it. We’ve also got a list of the best free apps and the best apps for kids too.
1. Kids Media
The app version of Common Sense Media, a thoughtful website that reviews thousands of movies, TV shows, music, video games, apps, websites and books. Reviews let you know exactly what to expect. Check this app first when deciding what media is appropriate for your kids. Better yet, search for good stuff by age.
2. RedLaser Barcode Scanner and QR Code Reader
Use your device’s camera to scan the barcode of any product to instantly find the best prices (both on and offline), reviews, coupons, and alternatives. It’s absolutely amazing to be able to scan a remote control helicopter while you’re standing in the toy aisle at Target and then read online reviews before deciding to buy.
If you’re going to be taking pictures with your phone or tablet (and of course you are), you’ll need powerful but simple photo editing capability. Lighten, brighten, crop, and filter to your heart’s content. There are many, many, many photo editing apps, but this is one of the best. Also? It used to be $5, but now it’s free.
4. NY Times Crosswords
Price: free for one week, then by subscription
The sine qua non of word apps, the NY Times Crosswords app delivers all the gray matter stimulation you need to keep your mind sharp and in shape. While the app itself is free, you will have to pay to get the daily puzzles after a free trial. Whether you’re a Monday only puzzler or a master, this is a polished and intuitive app. Even with tiny boxes, it works very well on a small screen. On a big screen, it’s word geek heaven.
5. AVG Family Safety
This is a free, family-friendly web browser that helps protect your children from inappropriate web content, while also acting as your first line of defense against fraud, phishing, malware, and scams. It also has a “Do not track” privacy feature to stop companies from collecting data on your web browsing history.
Back in the olden days — which in this case was just a couple of years ago, video editing was an onerous task. Most products were either way too basic (Microsoft Movie Maker) or way too expensive and complex for home users (Final Cut Pro). Well, forget all that, because now there’s iMovie, and unless you’re doing this for a living, this $5 app makes great home movies. It’s so easy to use that my 12-year-old taught herself. You don’t even have to upload video clips since you can shoot straight from the device.
7. PBS for iPad
If you’re a public television fan, you’ll be delighted to learn that you can download this app and watch all the most popular and current PBS programming free and with minimal interruption. Get all your Downton Abbey, Antiques Roadshow, Frontline, PBS NewsHour, and Nova when and where you want. Can’t you just feel your IQ going up?
8. Allrecipes.com Dinner Spinner Pro
The only recipe app you’ll ever need. Not only can you search the entire AllRecipes database by ingredient and course, you can now search by preparation time. Time crunched people everywhere are going to love that feature! You can also apply any dietary filters you like (vegetarian, vegan, high fiber and so on) and add ingredients straight to a built in shopping list.
9. Words with Friends HD
We recommend this ad-free version that’s optimized for the iPad, though you can find several free versions in the App Store too. If you like Scrabble, but hate sitting and waiting for you turn, this is the app for you. You can play up to 20 turn-based games simultaneously! It’s a great vocabulary builder for kids (assuming they don’t download or use cheats, tsk tsk!). It’s also a nice way for kids to stay in touch with grandparents.
If you haven’t experienced TED talks (short for Technology, Entertainment, and Design), you’re in for a fun and mind-expanding surprised. Download this app, and listen to education radicals, tech geniuses, medical mavericks, business gurus, and music legends talk about ideas worth spreading. Best of all, the talks are never more than 18 minutes long, sometimes less.